Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why are Liberals Out of their Minds?

The child's inner life and interaction with the environment are repeated in groups and form a conceptual model for a process in which the group forms a cohesive entity, defines boundary conditions and roles, and copes with new issues of power, task and intimacy.

So say the authors of Object Relations, The Self and the Group. Our purpose here is to see if the model described therein helps to account for the otherwise inexplicably irrational millennial beliefs, discourse, and behavior we have been discussing in recent posts.

Although we take it for granted, the human group is a very mysterious thing, since it mostly exists -- and must first exist -- in the mind of the group member, in the subject.

The first group -- the group into which we are all initiated -- is the mother-infant dyad. As we have said before, this is more of a biological category, certainly for all other animals. But for human beings, it takes on an entirely different meaning and significance, based upon what happens later, as we develop (which continues -- or should continue -- for the rest of our lives).

The mother-infant group must be viewed in a complementary fashion, as a kind of oneness-in-twoness and twoness-in-oneness. From the subjective at-one-ment of life in the womb -- warm, dark, silent (except for the mother's voice and beating heart), and free of want, i.e., desire -- the baby is suddenly plunged into a new existence with which it must cope and to which it must adapt.

Thus, the (external) maternal environment necessarily partakes of the existential categories of prenatal existence, and much of the mother's task involves easing the shock of the transition. This is something mothers instinctively know how to do, unless the species wisdom has been maimed by graduate school or feminist ideology.

The point is, from the perspective of the infant -- and this becomes obvious when you think about it -- the existence of Two comes as the shock of a lifetime. Indeed, many of us never recover. Many patients prefer the prior oneness, and therefore shun deep relationships and draw back from intimacy.

Others, for various reasons, are terrified by the devouring maternal oneness in their developmental rear-view mirror, and compulsively seek others to whom they may "adhere" in an immature manner.

For Ashbach and Schermer, "groups, in their evolution, embody and recapitulate the symbiosis/separation-individuation process" outlined by Margaret Mahler. This latter theory "asserts that mentation is established in interaction with significant others, so that to think and to experience is also to participate in a transactional situation."

For example, at this very moment, I am aware of thinking, which is to say, con-versing ("flowing-together") with an Other. There is a dynamic trialectic taking place, between a kind of ground, or deep Subject (Father), I (the subject, Son) and anOther, a sympathetic listener who is trying to understand and to whom I am trying to explain (Holy Spirit). In the end, I am all three of these positions in a mutual indwelling, undivided and unmixed.

Again, it is somewhat difficult for human beings to recognize group dynamics, since there is no human being in the absence of the group. Truly, "groupishness" is the water in which we swim. Yes, in the modern west we emphasize and prize our individuality (roughly half of us, anyway), but this can conceal the extent to which the individual is only made possible by virtue of a specific type of group.

The first distinction we must make is between the "interior" and "exterior" collective, something helpfully outlined in Wilber's Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. An exterior collective is analogous to a group we can draw an external boundary around.

For example, I am a resident of California -- a "Californian" -- although it doesn't mean much to me. It is not something I identify with on any personal, interior level. Frankly. I'd prefer to be in a state that isn't in the process of being destroyed by the left.

This is very much in contrast to, say, the Founders, most of whom had a primary identification with their state, not with the nation they were attempting to forge. Indeed, for them, "nation" was something of a curse word. Most of them wanted an exterior confederation, but thanks to far-sighted visionaries such as Hamilton, we indeed ended up with a nation. Although it took a Civil War to seal the deal.

So, I am a member of a number of exterior collectives that mean little to me. However, one of the intrinsic intellectual pathologies of the left is the ceaseless effort to place us into various group categories with which we do not -- or should not -- identify. For the left, one cannot simply be a member of the human group. Rather, one must be black, or homosexual, or female, or Latina, or wealthy -- these are all exterior categories that cement division and sow disharmony.

Just like individuals, groups clearly exist along a developmental continuum, which is one of the main reasons why the left's forced categories are so useless if not harmful. For example, a person's race or sexual orientation tells us nothing meaningful about a person. What is meaningful are his values.

But for the leftist, to have certain values means that one must be ejected from the group. Therefore, a Clarence Thomas "doesn't think like a black man" and a Sarah Palin has rejected her womanhood. This is a very primitive form of group dynamics, more similar to kinship structures, in which roles are strictly defined and individuality is forbidden.

A key principle is that human beings are open systems. This is obviously the case on the level of biology, for life is impossible in the absence of a continuous exchange of energy and information with the environment.

But it is equally true on the psychological (embodying emotionality and conventional intellect) and spiritual levels. It is specifically because human beings are open systems that such psychological processes as projection are possible.

In other words, projection has become a universally recognized phenomenon, but it can only occur because on a deeper level we are connected to the other into whom we project. This becomes rather transparent when a liberal projects various psychic content into the fantasied "conservative" who only exists only in the liberal's head, but is perceived to be "outside."

Consider the ravings of these selected koslings, and ask yourself: where exactly are the demons who are persecuting them?

"[T]he Republican Party [is an] awful group of neo-facist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, plutocratic, theocratic, sexist, oligarchic, neo-liberal, Orwellians that deserve all the bad things that come/are coming/ and have come previously to them in the world.

"[T]he [C]onstitution... is that peace [sic] of paper Conservative fascists wave at you when they are taking your Democracy away from you...

"Words like tyranny, spending, taxes, regulation, socialism and many others have been rendered meaningless over decades of conservative fascist propaganda in an effort to make the basic use and methods of democracy seem evil...

"The idea of small government and limited government is an attack on Democracy...

"[T]he crowd at the the Reagan Library -- a library dedicated to legacy of yet another American tyrant -- [stood] in applause when Rick Perry’s murderous toll was brought into question. From the Reagan era at least, the GOP has garnered voters by being the 'strong' party -- of course, its strength comes from attacking the most vulnerable among us. Blacks, gays, women, Muslims -- anyone that a typical GOP voter can rise above by squashing their humanity, they’ll do it... In fact, you could say it’s their only real draw as a party -- that someone, somewhere, isn’t worth as much as you...

"The current crop of Republican congressmen seem to look to the McCarthy era as the high point of government, and seem to spend every waking moment deciding how best to use their congressional positions to propagandize against, and demonize, any group or individual that crosses his path. Gay people, brown people, liberals, scary invisible communists that hide under your bed and come out at night to rearrange the eggs in your refrigerator...

"Richard Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew pioneered the tactic of teaching people to fear and hate 'Others.' Reagan refined and vastly improved it...

"Many learned to close their eyes to hard facts and to cast blame for problems on scapegoats... Reagan and Republican strategists knew that low-information voters are famous for their mental compartmentalization. They are unable to get at the root of their economic woes and prefer to center their anger on groups that do no harm at all: gays, immigrants, African-Americans, liberals, Muslims, environmentalists, and advocates of biological evolution..."


Now, just what is going on here? Since I am a member of the group they are describing, I can assure them that their perceptions are not just inaccurate but probably delusional (that is, if they cannot be easily corrected by more accurate information). Indeed, why don't they just ask a conservative what he believes? Wouldn't that be easier?

This is what I do with liberals. I hope I never mischaracterize them in the florid manner they do us (unless for comedic purposes). If I am not mistaken -- and please correct me if I am wrong -- liberals are in favor of bigger government and more spending, more regulation, higher taxes, public employee unions, multiculturalism, reducing the defense budget, illegal immigration, a banishment of religion to the margins of society, and any number of additional positions with which I disagree. I feel no need to project primitive mental content into them, in the manner of the liberals quoted above. It's enough for me that their ideas are wrong. There is no need to go beyond that, and shoot up a corpse on the pretext that it is attacking me.

Again: what is going on in the head of the liberal who lives with these elaborate fantasies of persecution and oppression? Although it can't be pleasant to have one's mind colonized by such malevolent entities, on another level, it must provide a kind of self-soothing.

In other words, let us stipulate that these liberals are not lying about their experience and their perceptions. Let us imagine two subjects; or, better yet, a subject -- the liberal -- and a group-container, i.e., conservatives, with a "space" in between (what is called the "transitional space").

All of the real action takes place in this transitional space. It is analogous to the space referenced above, between I and the Other with whom I wish to have an encounter of Truth. Or, imagine a love relationship. Is the love only in the lover? Or the beloved? No, it takes place in between, in a thousand little ways that externalize and actualize the love. This space is actually co-created by the two lovers.

But in the case of the liberals referenced above, there is no co-creation going on. There is quite literally no input from my end. Importantly, this goes back to what I said about open systems: while the liberal no doubt believes he is an open system in contact with reality, he is in fact only in contact with his own projected violence, hatred, oppression, and tyranny.

The next step -- assuming the liberal in question is capable of introspection and self-criticism -- is to ask why? Why am I doing this, and what does it mean, both in general and with regard to my particular fantasies?

Please note that some conservatives engage in this process, but not many mainstream ones. I am aware that there exists a "right wing fever swamp." Suffice it to say, I do not relate to these people, and as far as I know, they wield little influence over the movement.

For example, one of these sad cases has suggested that bin Laden was already dead before the SEALS found him, and that the later helicopter crash was actually a hit job by the Obama administration. This is a mirror image of leftists who suggested that Pat Tillman had been murdered by BushCheney. (I remember another one who thought tofu was a leftist plot to create more homosexuals.)

As with the liberals quoted above, the "leading edge" or motive-force of this kind of paranoia is uncontainable hatred and fear. It certainly isn't "thought," if by thought we mean the metabolism of experience. It is the failure to think, whereby unmetabolized thoughts are located and misperceived outside the head.

Hey, maybe Obama's hit squad minions can take out the dominionist hit squads, then we'd all be safe.

To be continued....


julie said...

Re. the Kosmonots, this:

"...[The] US is ripe for a demogogue. Our denial of this possibility is their greatest tool..."

would be funny, if we didn't already have one. Of course, the demagogue we have is the one they cannot possibly see, while the one they project:

"...He/She will have to come wrapped in the American Flag, carrying the Bible, and have his/her own military..."

is just as unlikely, given that any such person would have little to no chance at the presidency.

Gagdad Bob said...

All of the conservatives I know -- extending back to the Founders -- want a secular government (one that is not hostile to religion) but a religious culture.

Jim said...

“As with the liberals quoted above, the "leading edge" or motive-force of this kind of paranoia is uncontainable hatred and fear. It certainly isn't "thought," if by thought we mean the metabolism of experience. It is the failure to think, whereby unmetabolized thoughts are located and misperceived outside the head.”

Bob, what do you think of Roy Masters position that almost all the insanities we see are a result of post-hypnotic suggestions. I know he is a bit “out there” on some of his ideas, but the post-hypnotic behavior sure explains a lot of weird irrational behaviors on both left and right including Dr. Dimento Ron Paul. He's not real clear on exactly how the process works other than some mysterious leader takes control of your brain and has you do his/her bidding. Hollyweird and Television come to mymind. Any thoughts.

chris m said...

Very much liked this post. Like your new avatar too. So relieved to read what you said about the "sad case." I could never make it past her eyes.

aka sehoy

Gagdad Bob said...

Roy is sort of half intuitive genius, half nuts, and half carnival barker/conman. He is correct about the relationship between developmental trauma and post-hypnotic suggestion, but it is naturally more complicated than he makes it out to be, nor can it be magically cured via his "concentration exercise." What really happens is that the traumatized individual is vulnerable to shifting into a kind of trance state that makes it impossible to register and process experience, especially in emotionally charged situations.

mushroom said...

Many patients prefer the prior oneness, and therefore shun deep relationships and draw back from intimacy.

Aside from the intimacy issues, does this predispose to any particular neuroses or disorders?

mushroom said...

(I remember another one who thought tofu was a leftist plot to create more homosexuals.)

I am pretty sure that one is true.

Gagdad Bob said...

does this predispose to any particular neuroses or disorders?

Yes, generally what are known as borderline personalities, which are characterized by marked mood swings, often tied in with abandonment depression and separation anxiety. They "merge" with their partners, and when the merger fails, they can lash out, become self destructive, or do all sorts of other crazy things. They have a kind of intense "faux intimacy" generated by the merger, but they really don't tolerate separateness.

mushroom said...

That makes sense. I might know some people like that pretty well. It would be bad if two of them got together.

Gagdad Bob said...

One often sees a narcissistic man with a borderline woman. That's when you really see some fireworks, e.g., Sinatra and Ava Gardner.

mushroom said...

I happened to be in Rhode Island on election day of 2000. I had already voted absentee. Normally I am isolated from my fellow workers for my benefit as well as theirs, but during that project a couple dozen of us were all in a big, open room to "enhance communication". Somebody got up to go vote, and, forgetting where I was, I said something like, "OK, as long as you vote right" -- which was really meant to be nothing more than a casual acknowledgement of his or her departure. For once I was honestly not trying to antagonize anyone.

Immediately I found myself under what was meant to be a withering attack by every member of the team except three -- one other conservative, a Nader "protest" voter, and a former drill instructor who was figuring out how to kill all of us if we didn't shut up.

The funny thing is, I was fairly well-acquainted with one of the guys who turned on me. A couple of years before we had discussed in some detail our mutual dislike of government control. In terms of policy, we agreed on everything except, maybe, the proper approach to environmental issues.

I would say that the same was true of everyone else there. We are a bunch of very hard-working, fairly high-earning techies. It was enlightening.

mushroom said...

Ava Gardner. I have to think it might have been worth it. Just keep the Wild Turkey on hand for afterward.

John Lien said...

I'm with mushroom on the tofu danger. It's the plant estrogens. Ok, maybe it's not a leftist conspiracy. But now that we know that even holding babies drops your testosterone levels, who needs another kick in the you-know-what with plant estrogens coursing through your veins?

Roy Masters got me to come back to Jesus. Got to love him for that. I gave his concentration exercise (meditation) a good, honest try for several years. I just didn't progress with it and eventually gave it up.

julie said...

Re. the tofu, I'm not sure it's a conspiracy necessarily (if anything, you'd think it would make us more like the Japanese; they're quirky, but not necessarily gay). But in a more real sense, leftists do seem to be in favor of creating more homosexuals. How else to explain the people and programs they put in place to teach sex ed in schools?

mushroom said...

Since homosexuals rarely reproduce, how are you going to get more without education? They must be Lamarckian evolutionists.

John Lien said...

@julie. Yes, I agree there seems to be a promotional effort on the left to get kids to consider joining 'Team Gay'. If a percentage of the population can be pursuaded to go either way, and according to Bob, based on the ancient Greeks that percentage can be considerable, then am I a hater if I want that percentage minimized?

Rick said...

"...am I a hater if I want that percentage minimized?"

No more than if you want it to be maximized.

Whatever is true I can accept.

Rick said...

RE this post and more so the comments, this individual/group and predisposition to particular neuroses or disorders, makes me wonder about what seems to be a very common "public speaking" phobia. Is this a disorder? I think so.

Why is it so widespread? On a certain level it seems it should be no problem at all. Yet it is.

There is a separation of the individual from the group (which is really in a way just one large individual) that takes place. A very reluctant separation. I've found from personal experience, it helps tremendously to speak to/focus on one person, which is really how the audience "receives" the speaker anyway (one to one).

Gagdad Bob said...

If I am not mistaken, fear of public speaking is the most common "phobia." That being the case, it cannot be pathology per se, but rather, a natural fear that must be overcome (assuming one wants to). It is similar to excessive worry, which they say is also natural. After all, our ancestors didn't survive by not worrying about anything. To the contrary!

I assume that the fear of public speaking is rooted in fear of the stranger, since strangers were usually bad news in the archaic environment. Looking out at all those faces, there must be an unconscious fear of being devoured....

julie said...

Fear of the stranger? Interesting. I usually find it far easier to speak/ perform in front of people I don't know. If they are people I do know, I generally care too much what they think to be able to relax in a spotlight.

Rick said...

Yes, I mean dis-order*, rather than pathology.

*the way you often use it in your writing (I think) as in, dis-ease.

Rick said...

"Fear of the stranger?"

With me it is the impossible task of trying to please too many "individuals" at once. Information overload. So it helps me to focus on one person in the audience. Someone likable.

Gagdad Bob said...

I think there's a level of unconscious aggression going on out there. Not for nothing do comedians speak of killing the audience, or dying on stage.

mushroom said...

I used to have a paralyzing fear of public speaking -- so much so that I took French to avoid having to take Speech class. For me, as Julie noted, an audience of complete strangers is actually much less nerve-wracking. I mostly got over my fear, but I would still rather speak to a larger crowd of mostly strangers than to a smaller crowd of family and friends.

Rick said...

I suppose it depends on the situation, or rather the consequences of doing poorly.

julie said...

Yes, I think that makes a difference.

"Looking out at all those faces, there must be an unconscious fear of being devoured...."

Depending on the audience, the more of them you know the greater the likelihood of being devoured. Strangers confer upon a speaker a degree of anonymity. It seems to me public speaking is in some ways not much different from commenting online; depending on context, one may feel more free to speak, and may even be heard more clearly, if one is anonymous.

Notably, even the Man counted those who knew him most as his toughest crowd...

greyniffler said...

Why are Liberals Out of their Minds?

Because their minds are too narrow for them to fit in.

Van said...

"But for the leftist, to have certain values means that one must be ejected from the group."

A conceptual grasp of value is open ended, it recognizes essentials and hierarchy, it can integrate swimmingly with truths undiscovered and as yet unknown. Even better, in that integrating expansion, growth, what doesn't fit will standout as something whose essentials identify it as an error that is unintegratable, a point of disintegration, and it will eventually be recognized and plucked out.

Slavery for instance, amidst a nation founded upon individual rights, could not long last, because the values that America was founded upon, were conceptual values, not static associations such as skin color.

But a value that is based upon a static snapshot, is a closed and enclosing system, it cannot grow in the sense that a conceptual value can. It can easily tolerate being placed on a shelf with a random collection of other static values (gay rights activists and islambie extremists for instance), and having rejected essentials, the collection can be easily arranged by their non-essential appearances - color, opposition to daddy, etc, and arrangement by that way, affirms the 'value' of the collection.

But if any of those static values should display an interest and ability to seek out an integration with an open system, it can only be done through a conceptual means and it can only be done effectively by admitting and recognizing the existince of essentials, and it constitutes an instant rejection of the entire nature of the collection of static values - they are shown to be quite literaly meaningless by their proximity to the offending object.

Clarence Thomas or Sarah Palin, by expressing values which have nothing to do with how the curator has arranged his collection of values within the leftie curio cabinet, suddenly makes connections that extend far above and beyond its static shelf life and they are a living rejection, refutation, and denunciation, of the entire display cabinet of the leftist collection of 'values'.

"It certainly isn't "thought," if by thought we mean the metabolism of experience."

Lefties would prefer waxed fruit, but grudgingly yield to the next 'best' thing, tasteless & formless delicacies like tofu, or what is furtherest from and below the human diet, vegan yum-yums. In that sense, selected and consumed for those 'values', they do breed lefties that are sure to be fit for the shelf.

Kartik Subbarao said...

Here's another recent illustration of projection from the liberal mindset:


The funny thing is, the author _almost_ recognizes the projection for what it is. In his comments section, he writes: "Thanks. I guess Ron Paul inspires me." If he could recognize that "Ron Paul" was largely a creation of his own mental shadows, he would free up a lot of mental energy.

Having said that, I'll be the first to acknowledge my own challenges with projection. In debates with liberals, I have stepped right into accepting their transference, and have been oblivious to my counter transference. It's a truly vicious cycle.

Nowadays, I am better able to reclaim some of my projections, and I see how my "passion" for political debate was largely a matter of shadow-boxing.

As a result, I'm able to stay more present while other views are expressed. I'm better able to see how others across the political spectrum form their views, and by recognizing those *same* processes within myself, I can empathize with the motivations, even if I end up coming to different conclusions.

I enjoy reading your blog Bob and appreciate the many insights that you share -- although you write so much that there's no way I can keep up with all of it :-)